Very basic beginnings (Administrivia, Friendly Definitions, a model of psionics, “drawing on the hand”, “steepled finger exercise”, and cobweb psiball)
<Rainsong> Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the beginning of another series of elementary psionics seminars. For the record, we will be discussing (and practicing) real-world psionics, rather than playing a role-playing game. If you are looking for an RPG, you might want to try elsewhere, before you get too weirded out.
<Rainsong> We’ll get the administrivia out of the way, first.
<Rainsong> 1) Quite of a bit of this course is going to be in lecture format, with questions, and practice sections. In other words, I’ll blabber on of a while, and then stop for questions, and possibly discussion. This pattern might repeat a few times, before we get to the try-it section. This is intended to be a practical course. We might or might not discuss some theoretical stuff, at some point, if folks are interested, but we’ll be mostly concerned with how to do things. I also intend to discuss some history and research things, from time to time. Think of it as being like a high school survey course, with a similar format to a chemistry or physics class.
<Rainsong> 2) Skepticism is good. Pseudo-skepticism, not so much. For _much_ of this class, we are not going to be debating whether or not psi exists. That’s a fine topic in the main room, and in here outside of seminar time. We can even schedule chats for that topic if you like.
<Rainsong> 3) How long this course runs will be determined by how long people are still interested in showing up. The most important parts will be in the beginning, as the later classes will be assuming that everyone has already practiced the bits that we started with. Sometimes, these seminars have lasted only four or six sessions. Sometimes, they’ve gone on for years. I’m not concerned, one way or the other.
<Rainsong> 4) I’m not exactly what you would call a purist, as psionicists go. We will probably wander into, through, and around approaches which some people contend are not pure psionics. Not a problem.
<Rainsong> Anyone may, at any time, sit out of any exercise. If you happen to be a member of one of the groups which has rules about what psionic-like things you should or should not do, I am not about to ask you to violate your commitments elsewhere by doing something in the class.
<Rainsong> 5) It’s generally a good idea to have a snack on hand. Psionics is a physical activity, and it can mess up your blood chemistry…it seems to “use up” potassium and blood sugar. If you push too hard, you can make yourself pretty sick or worse. Sometimes, it can be very hard to move, in such a situation.
<Rainsong> 6) You should probably be aware that in serious research circles, the term “psionics” is not often used. The terms in use in Parapsychology are a bit different, for some things.
<Rainsong> There are some groups that teach, for example, that only one approach for doing telekinesis is acceptable if you want to practice psionics, as opposed to, say, ceremonial magic.
<Rainsong> Or, that you must use only one type of “energy”.
<eversosleepy> Ah, gotcha.
<Jael> No questions here.
<Raven> None here either.
<ElBob> My silence implies no questions here either, in case you’re waiting for my reply
<Caendaer> None here.
<Rainsong> Alright, let’s get started, then.
<Rainsong> In any subject, it is difficult to discuss or study without understanding the meanings of the terms specific to the field of endeavor. In some fields, even the topic itself is only vaguely understood by the casual observer.
<Rainsong> Calculus is one of these.
<Rainsong> Psionics is another.
<Rainsong> Therefore, throughout this course we will be using what Stephen K Campbell calls “Friendly Definitions”, in his book “Flaws and Fallacies in Statistical Thinking”.
<Rainsong> Of Friendly Definitions he says, in a footnote on page 10: “By _Friendly Definition_ I mean a definition selected from among several contending possibilities. The user of the data is in effect asked to accept that specific definition when interpreting the data. In return, the supplier of the data promises to adhere rigorously to that definition.”
<Rainsong> “Psi” is a Greek letter, the second-to-last letter of the Greek alphabet. It looks a bit like a trident. In common with many Greek letters, it is used as a variable in scientific literature.
<Rainsong> It is also one of the designations given to the mechanism which allows such effects as telepathy (communication between two or more minds without the use of the normal senses) and psychokinesis (moving or altering an object without the use of normal means of force) to function in the real world.
<Rainsong> . The nature of the mechanism is the focus of much study, even today in the twenty-first century. When the variable “psi” as assigned to it, it was an unknown quantity.
<Rainsong> Much more was known about what it is _not_ than what it is.
<Rainsong> It appears to have some properties in common with electromagnetism, but it is not electromagnetic.
<Rainsong> Also known as “bioplasma”, especially in Russian research literature, it does not appear to be a plasma, as the concept is understood for naturally-occurring terrestrial substances.
<Rainsong> It (or something related to it) has been produced mechanically, as have various organic substances.
<Rainsong> It seems to act like a negatively-charged particle, in a manner similar to a plasma, and it _may_ be produced as a byproduct of nervous function. Most people seem to possess the basic ability to use the psi-stuff to some degree or another, and many people have experienced minor psychic phenomena at some point in their lives.
<Rainsong> The use of this substance or mechanism generally ~ but not always ~ within an organized system of approach to accomplish psychical and psychokinetic effects is “psionics”.
<Rainsong> The word is an Americanism, coined by the late Jack Williamson/Will Stewart (The Dean of Science Fiction) in the middle of the twentieth century, to describe the alteration and perception of the physical world by an as-yet unknown mechanism.
<Rainsong> The word itself was coined in parallel form to “electronics” and “nucleonics”. If memory serves correctly, he intended the word to indicate effects generated with the assistance of devices, much the same as “radionics”.
<Rainsong> You will notice that ‘psi’ is spelled with an ‘i“, and yet several apparently-related words start with “psy”. Why is this? The letter transliterated from the Greek as “psi” is the first letter of the name of the Greek Goddess Psyche. She personifies the soul and mind.
<Rainsong> As mentioned a moment ago, “psychokinesis” is the movement or alteration of matter solely with the mind; ‘-kinesis’ is derived from the Greek word for “movement”. “Psychic’ or ‘psychical’ abilities are those talents of the mind or soul which allow direct perception of information, without the assistance of the recognized senses. And so on.
<Rainsong> The capacity to achieve psionic effects is not limited to humans. Studies with rabbits and parrots have demonstrated telepathy. Chickens have demonstrated psychokinesis in laboratory conditions. And even plants have exhibited what appears to be a form of extrasensory perception in experiments started by a polygraph technician who seems to have had too much time on his hands.
<Rainsong> Some systems use a model which describes psi as a byproduct of functioning of the nerves. In this model, psi is thought to be given off when nerve impulses fire, and then it may be used by the practitioner of such systems or dispersed into the environment. This hypothetical particle is unproven, but the model is workable.
<Rainsong> Of the systems which use this model, some favour deliberate generation of the hypothetical particle at the time of the intended activity, and others prefer to use the accumulated psi-stuff allegedly generated incidentally in regular activity for their pursuits. Both are valid conventions.
<Rainsong> Through much of this course, I will be using this model, and most of the time, I will be using less precise language concerning the concept of the model and the hypothetical nature of the particle assumed therein. Translation: Most of the time I won’t bother specifying the “alleged”, “model”, “hypothetical” stuff, because the explanations of what to actually _do_ will be too wordy any difficult to follow.
<Rainsong> So far so froody?
<Raven> On the latter bits: And the models will most likely be wrong to various degrees.
<Rainsong> Raven: Yep. Almost certainly.
<Rainsong> Most of the actual work of psionics appears to be accomplished by the subconscious.
<Rainsong> It appears to prefer to think in pictures, rather than the words favoured by the conscious mind.
<Rainsong> How do we translate our intentions so that the subconscious knows what we want it to do? The most popular answer to this problem is some form or another of visualization ~ picturing something in your head. Once a specific application is well-learned, the visualization can be dropped.
<Rainsong> The subconscious may be thought of as a file clerk, sitting in his little office, playing computer games. (I did not come up with this comparison. I would gladly attribute it correctly, if only I could remember the book and author. I lent it to someone a decade or so ago, and haven’t seen it since.)
<Rainsong> The File Clerk Dude maintains the basic functions of the organization (i.e., the body), making sure the heart beats, and making sure the messages get sent to their proper places with hormones and nerve impulses, keeping the temperatures as they should be, and so on and so forth.
<Rainsong> He also takes in all the random data sent to his office from the senses and imagination. Most of this stuff is filed neatly in this filing cabinet and never seen again.
<Rainsong> The conscious mind usually prefers to ignore the subconscious, so once the data is filed, it is very rarely called for. More data comes in, it gets tossed in the appropriate file, and the File Clerk Dude (FCD) goes back to his game of Minesweeper or Red Alert.
<Rainsong> As a result of this, many preliminary exercises are aimed at getting his attention and explaining your request, more than actually _doing_ anything directly psionic as such.
<Rainsong> Any questions?
<Aphanas> *shakes head*
<Raven> None here.
<IAM> According to William Walker Atkinson your mind creates mental force and your nervous systems generate physical magnetism mostly situated in the plexus clusters but not limited to
<Rainsong> Okay, then; let’s try a few bits.
<Rainsong> Ah, too soon. Sorry, Iam. Please continue.
<IAM> Go on. lol
<Rainsong> Using the hand you write with, tense your index finger as much as you can, and pretend to send a “laser beam” from it, draw a circle on the palm of your other hand, from a distance of a couple inches / several centimetres. If you write equally-often with both hands, use the one you wrote with most recently. What do you notice? (“Nothing”is a legitimate answer.)
<Trick> I might have felt something, most likely biofeedback
<Rainsong> Fair enough.
<IAM> I don’t understand this excercise at the moment because if I imagine a lazer beam without any substance there is no effect.
<IAM> So must we put substance into it
<Rainsong> True enough, Iam. For some people, though, tensing the muscles “produces” the substance.
<Rainsong> Granted, for some people, tensing the muscles seems to interfere with their attempts.
<IAM> Yea. I dont tense
<Rainsong> Try it again, but switch hands. Is there any difference?
<Rainsong> (Iam: feel free to not tense if you like)
<IAM> Is this a biofeedback excercise, Rain? So i understand exactly what we’re trying to do… I’m a bit lost :p
<Caendaer> Feels like a really light touch, not tensing fingers though
<Rainsong> Caendaer: Any difference between hands?
<Caendaer> Hmm. Not particularly that I can tell…
<Rainsong> No worries.
<Rainsong> Iam: technically, I suppose it could be considered a biofeedback exercise at this stage, yes.
<IAM> Okay, I can work with that
<Jael> I have a bit more effect using my right finger; feels “weird”. A bit like I’m rubbing it, but not in a nice way
<ElBob> Biofeedback to produce psi or biofeedback to produce the feeling?
<Rainsong> ElBob: judging from past experience, I would maintain that it is to “produce” psi, or at least direct it. I say this on the grounds that I’ve used the same approach to affect other people, and an assortment of inanimate objects
<IAM> And Rain, another question
<IAM> The cluster of plexuses generate the most nerve force. Why must we use hands since they do not contain as many nerves?
<Rainsong> Typically, the feeling is stronger from the index finger on the dominant hand. For most people, the dominant hand is the one you write with.
<Rainsong> Ambidextrous people often find that the left hand acts as though it is dominant, for these purposes
<Rainsong> Iam: good question. The hands and wrists actually _do_ contain a large number of nerves, both sensory and motor. Also, for many people, directing stuff from the hands is easier, even if it is not the strongest possible position
<IAM> I see
<Rainsong> Continue “drawing” like this, with various shapes, on different parts of your body: inside wrist, cheek, forehead, calf, etc. If you “draw a “blank” when trying to think of other shapes, here are a few to get you started: square, triangle, rectangle, diamond, heart, trapezoid, octagon, hexagon, oval, figure-of-eight, wavy line, cross / “x”.
<Rainsong> Once you have drawn at least twelve such shapes on various parts of your own body, and jotted down your observations, try “drawing” shapes on someone else’s hand/wrist. Both of you record your observations and then trade roles.
<Rainsong> If you are keeping notes in a databook, include the date, the activity, and any other observation that seems like a good idea. Other useful data includes the time, weather, location, solar winds, anyone else involved or observing, and anything that might distract you (“inclemencies”). Inclemencies include bellyaches, emotions, or the fact that your practice partner is doing loud impersonations of American film stars while you are trying to concentrate
<IAM> Are we trying to create egregors or just directing the current of nerve force?
<Rainsong> Just directing the current, for the moment.
<Rainsong> Starting out with the basics, to make a nice firm foundation for the more complicated stuff
<Rainsong> We’ll try a couple more little bits before calling it a night…
<Rainsong> Steeple your fingers. This is the characteristic posture of Mr. Burnes from _The Simpsons_, when he purrs “Exxxxcellent”.
<Rainsong> If possible, face away from any light sources. Watch the area where the fingertips meet, and slowly separate your hands, pulling them slowly away from each other. Repeat three or four times, pulling the hands straight apart or in curvy patterns. Do you notice anything?
<Rainsong> Hint: don’t stare.
<Rainsong> (We’re not trying for one of those eye-fatigue illusion things here…)
<IAM> Oh yea. I was about to add something
<IAM> I was going to say that rhythmic breathing enhances your ablility to create nerve force
<Rainsong> This is true
<IAM> Just so they know to breathe instead of holding their breath trying to squeeze something out :p
<Rainsong> Then again, some people find that squeezing something out can be useful sometimes.
<Rainsong> In any case, third bit…
<Rainsong> Put both hands together in a “prayer” position, then pull them about six inches / fifteen centimetres apart. Tense the fingers of one hand and slowly bend the hand in such a way that the fingertips gradually point toward the other hand, and down toward the wrist, sort of like it is stiffly bowing to the other hand. Then slowly straighten it up again, still keeping the fingers tense. Repeat a few times, and switch hands. What do you notice?
<Rainsong> (This is one that Bevy Jaegars used to write about.)
<IAM> Pins and needles due to lack of bloodflow :p
<Rainsong> Fair enough
<ElBob> I notice a sort of warmth which follows in the wake of my moving hand downwards, and which lifts after I pull it back.
<ElBob> My brain probably expects my hand to be putting something over the other hand and then pulling it off
<ElBob> Like a sock, but for your hand.
<IAM> Rememmber to try a face for it …haha
<IAM> Draw one in :p
<Rainsong> Probably, ElBob. That sensation is one of the more frequent experiences. Another is a cool-breeze thing that follows the same way
<Raven> Mind if I share an exercise I’ve tried with several people?
<Rainsong> Please do
<Caendaer> I just get a light feeling that goes up and down the hand I’m pointing at
<Rainsong> Caendaer: That works
<Raven> It’s a similar one to that one, where you put your palm above another person’s palm, close, but not quite touching. What I’ve actually experienced is that different people have different “feelings” to them from that experiment, and the feeling they get in return is surpisingly similar.
<IAM> They giggle and laugh becausec it tickles
<Rainsong> Good stuff…
<Raven> No, actually they tend to get a slightly chilly feeling from me, which can’t be from room temperature, or my skin surface temperature; the former always varies and my skin surface temperature is usualy fairly high.
<Rainsong> Nifty. …… Next bit: Make a fist. Notice how it feels. Open your fist and close it again, observing as much as you can about how it feels to move your hand.
<Rainsong> Now, send the same signal to your hand, to make a fist, but stop the signal before your hand moves.
<Rainsong> More accurately, send a second signal that countermands the first one
<IAM> Okay, that lost me. lol
<Rainsong> It might take a few tries before you succeed in sending both signals without letting your hand move. That isn’t a problem. It gets easier with practice.
<Rainsong> Notice how this feels. (If you are keeping notes, jot down how many tries it took, so you can look back later and see your progress.)
<Raven> IAM, decide to close your fist, tell your fist to close, but don’t close it.
<Rainsong> Repeat that last exercise a fifteen or twenty times. The exact number is unimportant.
<Rainsong> If you feel anything (or see or whatever), around your hand or arm, pretend that it is cotton candy or cobwebs.
<Rainsong> Tense your other hand, the same way you tensed your finger in the first exercise, and use it to bunch all the cobwebs into a sticky ball.
<Rainsong> Once you have gathered up all the cobwebs in one hand, you can tense the other hand, too, and shape the ball as though you were packing together a snowball or a ball of cookie dough.
<IAM> I don’t know, Rainsong, about this tensing thing… I’m not used to it. lol
<Rainsong> When you have it nice and round, throw it against a wall and let it go ?splat!? Just lob the thing like a softball.
<Rainsong> Not to worry, Iam.
<Rainsong> Two options: a) try it and see how it compares to the stuff you’re used to, as you might sometimes find it useful as a backup, or b) adapt the instruction to fit your background
<Rainsong> Or a third one, c) just observe, to be aware of other ways to do things
<Rainsong> To those who lobbed a sticky ball: Congratulations. You’ve made a psiball.
<IAM> Yea, I’ll do b) though I did make a funny thought when I was trying to stop myself from myself closing my fist
<Rainsong> Any other questions or comments?
<Aphanas> None here… thanks much for the seminar, Rain.
<Jael> None here either
<Caendaer> *Felt some tingling with the tensing, no cobwebs or balls though*
<eversosleepy> None here.
<Trick> No questions
<Rainsong> Iam: also, we will be doing some non-tensing things, too…just not tonight
<IAM> Okay :p
<Rainsong> Caendaer: nothing wrong with that
<Raven> No questions from me.
<IAM> Is the session over?
<Rainsong> Yes, that concludes tonight’s class.
<IAM> thx Rain
<Rainsong> Thanks for showing up, folks.
<IAM> Oh and everyone for the sake of your sanity, go and ground yourself
<Jael> Thanks for the class! I am going to be heading away; have fun.
<IAM> Go eat something or drink coffee
<IAM> Don’t want you up there… lol